The area selected for the study is Brigade-Tudun Wada in the northern part of the Nassarawa Local Government Area (LGA). This area is both one of the most densely populated areas and one of the most cosmopolitan, containing people from all parts of the country and beyond. The study reveals that the community stopped getting water from the public tap systems more than two decades ago. Due to a lack of provision of water infrastructure and sanitation, the community
mostly relies on public borehole water and private informal water vendors who also source their water from boreholes. Because of the porous basement-complex geology in the area, most of the aquifers are patchy and there is limited groundwater supply. The community faces serious challenges in times of water scarcity – the dry season in the area lasts for seven or eight months, reaching its peak in March or April – and whenever there is a power outage for a day or two.
Water sanitation is poor; people take water without any additional treatment due to limited choice coupled with low income.
The groups most affected by the water problem in the community are women and children who rely on men in the family to supply water and are less powerful when it comes to decisions about this important resource. Although there are many community organizations in the area and women are well represented, they are very unlikely to hold any leadership positions presently or in the near future.
The traditional community leaders play an important role in managing water infrastructure in the study area. Although they have little direct influence on politicians’ decisions as to when or where to provide water, as their role is merely advisory, they are indirectly influential as patrons of the community development associations that are important pressure groups. It is the community association that attracts projects to the community, whether by engaging the state and local government or soliciting help from individuals and philanthropists. These associations are mostly registered with local or state governments and, in a few instances, with the national Corporate Affairs Commission. They are formed in most neighbourhoods to manage infrastructure, while the traditional leaders are responsible for forming and regulating the group. In most cases, the leaders hold their positions (either as acting or elected) for an unlimited period. Each resident contributes a small token for the management and maintenance of existing
infrastructure. Decisions on the use of the money are largely made through the consensus of association members, but it is a highly informal and not very democratic system, and the community is not generally informed on how the money is spent. Since work in the associations is voluntary and members sacrifice their time to ensure the running of the infrastructure, the community rarely complains except when there is a serious allegation.
The power of the electorate was witnessed in the contested governorship election in 2019 when the government and opposition parties pursued the voters of Gama, part of the research community. Within just two weeks of the campaign period, in order to win the vote of this densely populated area, the government implemented a water project that the community never dreamt of. This project is helping to reduce the water problem in the locality.
The study finally recommends the empowerment of the local community association as a means to advocate communities’ demands and to manage infrastructure. The participation of women as key stakeholders also needs to be emphasized.